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Threadworm - How to treat?

Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger HendersonReviewed on 29.04.2024 | 3 minutes read

Threadworm are a type of parasitic infection that look like a thin thread, hence their name. They are found to grow in human and animal guts. Threadworms are the most common parasitic worm in the UK and the most commonly affected groups are children and household contacts of infected children. Threadworms lay eggs around your bottom (anus), which make it itchy. As well as some suspicious symptoms, it is possible to see threadworms occasionally in your child's poo. They are pale white moving worms, and can be quite clear if you notice them.

The reason they are so infectious, is that the worms eggs take around 2 weeks to hatch. The eggs can then get stuck on your Childs fingers when the area is scratched. They can then pass on to anything they touch, including clothes, pets, tables, toys etc. The eggs are ingested by hand-to-mouth transfer after touching a surface with the eggs or scratching your bottom. Because of this, and the time-lag with the eggs hatching – repeated treatments are commonly needed.

Who should avoid starting threadworm treatment?

For pregnant or breastfeeding women, medical treatment is not usually recommended.

The recommended treatment choice is hand washing and hygiene measures for 6 weeks.

Treatment is sometimes considered in the first trimester (12 weeks) of pregnancy but should be avoided throughout the rest of the pregnancy and breastfeeding period.

For children aged 6 months and under similarly hygiene measures alone for 6 weeks, are recommended, as there is a risk of side effects from the medications.

Healthwords pharmacists top tips

If you or someone in your house has symptoms of threadworms, you should ensure everyone washes their hands and cleans under the fingernails, particularly before eating, after going bathroom or changing their nappies.

It is important to keep fingernails short as the eggs sit in the bed of the nail.

Wash sleepwear, sheets, towels and soft toys at a high temperature if there is a suspected case.

As well as disinfect kitchen and bathroom surfaces.

If your children sleep without underwear, it is recommended to wear underwear to reduce the spread of the eggs.

When to see your doctor?

If it is the first time you or someone in your household may have threadworm but you are unsure after speaking to your local pharmacist, then you should visit your doctor. You should also see your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you think your child has threadworms and they're under 2 years old. In these circumstances, treatments can differ. It is also important to go see your doctor if the threadworm infestation is severe or persistent (even after treatment), especially if it is causing severe symptoms such as loss of appetite, weight loss, skin infection around the anus, insomnia or bedwetting.

Help from the pharmacy

If you or your child has threadworms, everyone in your household will need to be treated as there's a high risk of the infection spreading and reinfection. The pharmacy can supply medicine for children aged 2 or older. Commonly, treatment involves taking a single dose of anti-parasitic medication mebendazole, which kills the threadworms. The most commonly recommended brand is Ovex. If necessary, another dose can be taken after 2 weeks. Continue to follow our general hygiene tips found in the pharmacist advice section for at least 2 weeks after treatment to reduce down the chance of reinfection.

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 29.04.2024
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